Companies often see their warehouse as a necessary expense. They might recognize that poor warehouse performance leads to costly problems, but they rarely imagine how good warehouse management could improve their customers’ experience.
Optimal warehouse management could result in significant cost savings that the company could pass along to the consumer. However, other valuable benefits to quality warehouse management make a discernible difference in the customer experience.
The bottom line for every business is happy customers who come back again and again and tell their friends about your great service. Improving warehouse operations could enhance your customers’ shopping experience and send your reputation for service excellence soaring.
Warehouse management includes sophisticated inventory control systems that track the number and position of items in stock. These systems can monitor how quickly specific items move off the shelves and send alerts when the inventory of popular items gets low. Some systems even can reorder stock automatically, based on sales data.
These inventory management systems enhance the customer experience, whether the business is a brick-and-mortar retailer, a wholesaler, or an e-commerce seller. Inventory management reduces the likelihood of running out of stock, so the customer does not have to wait for a back-ordered item to arrive. These systems also move stock on a first-in, first-out basis, so an item does not sit in a warehouse so long it deteriorates.
Inventory management systems greatly reduce packing and delivery errors, helping ensure the item arrives at the customer’s address when they expect to receive it. A customer can purchase an item and get an accurate delivery date in real-time. If a return or exchange is necessary, the information on the packing slip eases processing for customer service agents and restocking for warehouse personnel.
Customers often buy products, and then decide they want to return them. The process of handling returns is called reverse logistics. Reverse logistics can be financially costly if the process is cumbersome, but more importantly, customers might not return to shop with a company that does not make returns as simple and convenient as possible.
Warehouse management systems (WMS) can plug the leaks where companies lose money due to poor reverse logistics systems. A good WMS could generate a return slip with the item’s packing slip, allowing returned merchandise to be checked into the warehouse the same way products from manufacturers are checked in. Such a process ensures that inventory data is accurate and the company does not overstock the item. If the product is defective, damaged, or unsaleable, it could be segregated from salable merchandise at the point of entry. This prevents a damaged item from being resold and returned again.
Data obtained during the return process could alert management to quality issues with a particular item or vendor, prompting immediate feedback and influencing future ordering decisions. Integrating reverse logistics into warehouse management ensures that customers know when the company received their return and when they could expect a refund or replacement item. From the customer’s viewpoint, the return is handled smoothly and efficiently further improving customer satisfaction.
Many individuals and businesses are using their purchasing power to promote sustainable practices when possible. WMS offer opportunities to enhance sustainable practices throughout the supply chain. Companies can highlight these practices in their promotional material and set themselves apart from competitors.
WMS use barcoding or radio frequency identification systems, reducing a warehouse’s need for paper records. They optimize packing and delivery options, minimizing packaging materials and eliminating unnecessary fossil fuel use in getting the product to the end-user.
WMS often utilize automated systems that could operate in the dark and in cold or hot temperature conditions. Introducing automated systems could limit the hours the warehouse must have human labor and reduce a warehouse’s energy consumption by significant margins.
This focus on sustainability is very important to a growing number of consumers; therefore, touting sustainability initiatives in your supply chain can increase consumer satisfaction and brand loyalty.
Warehousing is the heartbeat of your company’s operation, but too often companies think of it as a cost center and nothing more. In reality, optimizing warehouse efficiency pays big dividends for companies and their customers.
A 3PL provider could offer customized solutions to help you resolve your warehousing challenges and offer your customers an exceptional service experience. When evaluating your warehousing operations, consider partnering with an experienced logistics expert. Call today to get started.